Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2007 - 8:43 PM   
 By:   Greg Bryant   (Member)

I always feel sorry for those people who refuse to watch B&W films, or call them unrealistic. They're missing so much. There's something to them which I wish I could put my finger on, but that sets them apart.

I'm an avid watcher of TCM. What still surprises me is that TCM was launched by Ted Turner with a mandate to respect the film, yet Turner was also the "genius" behind colorization in the 80's.

So often, I try to imagine certain B&W films in color, but I just can't. Maybe it has to do with shadows. Color seems to add so much light to films that shadows essentially don't exist in color movies.

But there is so much going on in the whites and blacks and grays and shadows and fogs and so on in B&W.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2007 - 11:25 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....I always feel sorry for those people who refuse to watch B&W films, or call them unrealistic. They're missing so much.....

With all due respect, Mr. Greg.....

B&W films ARE unrealistic. They're beautiful, they're striking, they're artistic, but they're also unrealistic, and since the '60s, particularly, filmgoers have demanded that films SEEM more realistic (.....not that THEY are either, for other reasons---but they SEEM to be.) And I agree that people who don't experience B&W films ARE missing something wonderful.


.....What still surprises me is that TCM was launched by Ted Turner with a mandate to respect the film, yet Turner was also the "genius" behind colorization in the 80's.....

Turner's primary mandate for himself and TCM was to keep the library and its stars---his huge investment---continuously living before the public eye, and thus maintain its value.
The stars of the films Turner owned, MGM, WB pre-48, and RKO, are the most exposed stars of all time and probably, in entirety, the most famous yet remaining in peoples' minds.

Ted Turner utilized colorization on a grand scale in its rudimentary form for business purposes, but he hardly started it, or was a "genius" behind it, or will finish it. It was valuable to many detractors to have an up-front "whipping boy", however.


.....So often, I try to imagine certain B&W films in color, but I just can't.....

I can imagine, in color, all the Rogers-Astaire films, particularly TOP HAT and SWING TIME, THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, WESTWARD THE WOMEN, GREEN DOLPHIN STREET, INTERMEZZO, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, GOLDEN EARRINGS, BEAU GESTE, TALE OF TWO CITIES, CAMILLE, the MacDonald-Eddy films, particularly MAYTIME, NEW MOON, NAUGHTY MARIETTA, and ROSE MARIE, LOST HORIZON.....and many, many more. You need to listen to old radio for awhile and sharpen your imagination skills. smile


.....Color seems to add so much light to films that shadows essentially don't exist in color movies.....

You just haven't seen the right color movies, and if so, ones photographed by bad color cameramen. Have you not seen the "shadows" in BLACK NARCISSUS or BLOOD AND SAND?



.....But there is so much going on in the whites and blacks and grays and shadows and fogs and so on in B&W.....

Well, see, we tricked you there! There is NOTHING going on in the blacks, grays and shadows. You only think so because we wanted you to and you want to believe! smile

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 12:59 AM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

People who don't like black and white, should just die.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 2:28 AM   
 By:   The_Mark_of_Score-O   (Member)

B&W films ARE unrealistic. They're beautiful, they're striking, they're artistic, but they're also unrealistic, and since the '60s, particularly, filmgoers have demanded that films SEEM more realistic (.....not that THEY are either, for other reasons---but they SEEM to be.) And I agree that people who don't experience B&W films ARE missing something wonderful.

Don't confuse realism with naturalism. The moment you try to force the random occurrences of life into formalized drama, or make the images more dramatic or "clearer" than they'd be if captured by a camera that had been set up at an arbitrary position in the street, it ceases to be realistic.

Black-and-white is utterly subjective. It is as artificially unnatural as silent cinema was: one lacked sound, and the expression of thought through speech; the other lacks color. B&W is, therefore, a very specific storytelling tool, requiring a specific approach as to its use.

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 5:20 AM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)

A dislike of black and white films is an indication of underdeveloped tastes, if not outright stupidity (by the time adulthood is reached).

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 6:47 AM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

I remember going to buy a ticket to THE GOOD GERMAN earlier this year...

Counter Girl: Sir, are you aware that this film is in black and white?
Me: I like it already!

Amazing to think that people in the past must have insisted on getting their money back because a film unexpectedly turned out to be black and white!

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 7:10 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Amazing to think that people in the past must have insisted on getting their money back because a film unexpectedly turned out to be black and white!.....


I don't know where you get this idea.

In the so-called "Golden Age" of films it was very clear which movies were in B&W (most), and Technicolor (fewer), from the posters, newspaper and magazine ads, and trailers. The "Color by Technicolor" credit was often equal in size to the star's credit and nearly always much larger than the Director's.

Anyone mistaking this by the time he arrived at the boxoffice was probably visually-impaired and shouldn't have been at the movies in the first place. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 7:35 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....B&W is, therefore, a very specific storytelling tool.....

In some hands, yes. In others, simply a limited spectrum reproduction of the scene in view. It's fairly obvious that many mass-produced B&W films and TV shows gave no thought at all to B&W as a storytelling technique---only as a compromised budgetary technique.


.....requiring a specific approach as to its use.....

You can set up a camera, load it with B&W stock and shoot all day long without any thought of an "approach" other than setting up the camera and shooting it all day long and getting an exposure. This is not "art", but it IS mass production without a care in the world what kind of stock is in the camera as long as it gets exposed.


 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 10:49 AM   
 By:   Greg Bryant   (Member)


With all due respect, Mr. Greg.....

B&W films ARE unrealistic. They're beautiful, they're striking, they're artistic, but they're also unrealistic, and since the '60s, particularly, filmgoers have demanded that films SEEM more realistic (.....not that THEY are either, for other reasons---but they SEEM to be.) And I agree that people who don't experience B&W films ARE missing something wonderful.


I think that if you immersed yourself in B&W films, you might feel differently.

And, BTW, it's "Dr. Greg..." wink

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 11:34 AM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

Creative black and white is always connected to the 1920's German Expressionist cinema, isn't it Manderley?


 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 12:01 PM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

I find it ironic that younger people will turn-up their noses at black and white films, when so many popular, mainstream movies are so desaturated and bleach-bypassed they are practically black and white anyway! roll eyes

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 12:33 PM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)




I find it ironic that younger people will turn-up their noses at black and white films, when so many popular, mainstream movies are so desaturated and bleach-bypassed they are practically black and white anyway! roll eyes



I think you've got a point here: for instance, the young generation who enjoys gloomy films done by David Fincher (see "Se7en", "Fight Club", "Panic Room", "Zodiac").

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 12:36 PM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

To all B&W fans,

Let me know your favourite directors of photography and an example?
I can't resist to tell you mine:
Conrad Hall for "In Cold Blood"
John Alton for "Reign of Terror"
James Wong Howe for "Seconds"

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 12:51 PM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

To all B&W fans,

Let me know your favourite directors of photography and an example?
endquote]

The two gentlemen who directed photography on "The Twilight Zone" from '59 to '64.

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 2:00 PM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

The two gentlemen who directed photography on "The Twilight Zone" from '59 to '64.



Actually, there was a main DoP named George T. Clemens.
Joseph LaShelle shot the pilot.
Harry J. Wild shot "Third from the Sun".
William Skall shot "Mr. Dingle, The strong".
By season 3, entered Robert W. Pittack and Jack Swain.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 3:59 PM   
 By:   Greg Bryant   (Member)

To all B&W fans,

Let me know your favourite directors of photography and an example?
I can't resist to tell you mine:
Conrad Hall for "In Cold Blood"
John Alton for "Reign of Terror"
James Wong Howe for "Seconds"



Gregg Toland in Citizen Kane - for light and shadow, depth of field, shooting upwards to denote power, the reflective image of Kane walking down the hallway, and so on.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 5:55 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I'm turning 30 in November, so I guess I fall into the 'whippersnapper' category (old whippersnapper, perhaps). This means I obviously connect more easily to colour films and films from the time I grew up. HOWEVER, that does NOT mean that I can't appreciate b/w films, of course. In fact, one of my favourite films of all time is in b/w (SCHINDLER'S LIST). In many ways, it's just another way of putting together the "film palette", if you will - like the difference between oil and water painting. As I've viewed films, read about films and analyzed films from the entire history of Cinema - both in my profession and on my sparetime - I've come to appreciate the peculiarities of each time period, style and trend. German expressionism, for example (which Stefan mentioned above), would certainly not have been the same in colour. Much of its power - both political and aesthetic - is derived from the dynamic between shadows and light; black and white.

I can't comment on all the technicalities of cinematography like manderley and the others above, but what I often find interesting is how certain contemporary colour films approximate the b/w FEEL and look by using shadows, non-garish colours or simply faded colours (A.I., SKY CAPTAIN, certain parts of EDWARD SCISSORHANDS etc.).

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 6:18 PM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

From my favourite black and white film from the 1960's:
SECONDS
directed by John Frankenheimer
shot by James Wong Howe

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 6:32 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Creative black and white is always connected to the 1920's German Expressionist cinema, isn't it Manderley?.....


Perhaps to an extent, Stefan, though there was certainly "creative" photography in US films before that, I'd say.

What IS particularly connected to German Film Expressionism in Hollywood films is Art Direction---Production Design, Set Design, and Set Decoration---with a dollop of French Art Moderne thrown in from time to time.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2007 - 7:18 PM   
 By:   ahem   (Member)

Don't forget frontal hard lit black and white was at one point synonmous with documentary- this is how newsreels and even television news looked for DECADES, even to some degree with the birth of video (in b/w). To this end, for many a generation, black and white WAS realism. imagine trying to accept the heightened artifice of three strip Technicolor as your first gateway to the wider spectrum?

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.